Dear Nathan,

I cried when you were born.

No, I wasn’t the thoughtful big sister to my new baby brother. I was just really upset that you weren’t a girl.

I was only nine, so maybe you’ll give me a pass for that.

But it wasn’t long before I was thankful for exactly who you are.

[This is part of my 52 Letters in 52 Weeks series (read all of the previous letters).]

You made me a better mother

Brother Nate at maybe 7?My first memories of diapers and bottles, little lips and sudden laughter, the burst of love for one so small and helpless came from you. I relished your little blond curls. I danced to make you smile.

I had hopes and dreams for you. I hurt at your mistakes. I celebrated your achievements.

You, my baby brother, were my trial and error before I could make my own parenting mistakes that were irreparable. I can only hope you don’t remember that time I dropped you.

You were my black and white sitcom before eventually, I lived a high definition reality show featuring three of my own little monsters darlings running around.

You taught me patience

I doubt you liked me very much when you were a teenager. I worried about you. I think I expected you to grow up faster because of all the great life lessons I was sharing, being so grown up and mature in my early 20’s and all. ♥ I was too naive and maybe too proud to reflect on my own dismissal of similar advice at your age.

But being patient with you crafting your own life and making your own decisions was a good primer for my own parenting.

Nate (brother) and Nicole, the younger yearsAs a parent, or an older sister, there is no substitute for the ones we love learning from their own mistakes, maturing, and becoming their own person.

And I love the unique person you’ve become.

You chose a wonderful wife. You work hard and you put your nose to the grindstone to get your degree. You are a good father. You are a good friend.

You are hilariously funny.

Watching your journey has changed me as a parent. I needed to see that we can all take the the foolishness that comes with our teens and twenties, and turn it into an amazing life. It’s hard to see that in our own lives, but it is eye opening when we see it in others.

I am thankful for your journey and the life you’ve created.

You are appreciated

There’s not a lot of people that I would choose to vacation with. There’s not a lot of people I would take to family camp, sleeping in bunks, eating vegetarian food, playing Uno on the porch while it rains and the neighbors sing Kum-ba-yah. (You probably wish I didn’t love you enough to invite you to family camp!)

But I can’t imagine lots of our adventures without you and your family. Sometimes I forget that I’m the big sister when I watch you as a husband, father, and friend.

Melissa and Nate in 2017, Lake Tahoe There is a wisdom growing in you that I admire and respect. A kindness that I appreciate. A confidence that I follow.

A few weeks ago, we went to the top of a mountain – over 10,000 feet in the air. Stepping off the ski lift, clouds and snow mixed together were everywhere. The view was scary and exhilarating. But then we had to make our way down.

On that journey, the snow, the whiteness, was so dense and swirling that I could barely see you 10 feet ahead. The snow on the ground blended with the air which blended with the sky and it was hard to tell which way was up, down, forward, or off the edge of the mountain. It was hard to know which direction I wanted to go, which direction was safe.

In that moment, my life became the mountain. Two friends had lost their sons to Hunter Syndrome that week. Sometimes, in the grief, in the fear for my own son, I’m just not sure where to go, which direction is safe. Which direction leads me home.

But you, my brother, waited patiently. You led me down. Sometimes, I just need someone to wear a red coat so I can see them through the snow and find a way back home.

Thanks for always wearing a red coat.

You are family I would choose

We don’t get to choose our family. And while I think our family is pretty great, I recognize that sometimes family members can drive people crazy. Sometimes our heart aches with sadness over circumstances we can’t change or people we can’t seem to reach.

Sometimes there are family members that are so different that if they weren’t family, a friendship or connection would simply drift away.

But you are family I would choose.

Not because we agree all the time. (We don’t.)

Not because we are at the same stage in life (We aren’t.)

Not because we grew up together and have all the same memories. (We don’t.)

Not because you followed some path I chose, believed some way I approved, or became a person I fashioned.

No, you are more independent than that.

I would choose you as family because you are kind. You are thoughtful. You make me think.

You spur me on to be a better sister, a better mother, a better wife, and a better person.

You make my husband laugh, relax, and enjoy just being himself. You love my kids and they love you back.

Thank you for having the confidence to forge your own path.

Thank you for being the kid I remember while growing into the man I respect.

Your (not yet old) Older Sister,

Be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss any of the 52 Letters. One just might be to you.

Related Posts:
Letters from Family Camp
Letter No. 6: Dear Grieving Parents

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Last modified: April 12, 2017

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